Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

Joy is spending time over the holidays with my family, skiing through the beautiful snow-covered pines.

Skiing through the winter woods

I showed you some evening scenes from these trails in my last post.  As you can see, the trails are just as beautiful during daylight.  We are fortunate to live in a place with so many natural escapes that allow us to get out and enjoy the otherwise very long winter months!

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Joy” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Cleon is No Match for the Local Hardware Store

As Cleon rages on, with snow accumulations in Duluth and along the North Shore of Lake Superior ranging from  18 inches to over three feet, and the local schools canceling classes for the third day in a row (cripes, these kids will be going to school until July now), the trusty local hardware store carries on with a booming storm supply business.

Despite Cleon, Marshall Hardware has lights on for business.

Marshall Hardware in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood is a classic throwback where clerks know their customers’ names, you can bring in a broken screw and walk out with a single replacement, and friendly four-footed friends are welcome with a treat for good behavior.

Treats for good behavior at Marshall Hardware.

Anything from snow shovels to sleds, gift items to plumbing, bird seed to cleaning supplies, painting paraphenalia to holiday lights – Marshall Hardware has it all.

Ciao! ~ Kat

The Simplicity of Frozen Water

The clear, sunny days just keep coming.   The snow is holding up on the trails.  What a glorious week for the Yellowstone Ski Festival.

Such an amazingly simple formula — water frozen into snowflakes, icicles, frost.  Just a few degrees transforms water into a wonderland for winter sport.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone

The sun has been casting its dappled light across the ski trails, with the radiant sparkling crystals hanging in the treetops. Snow continues to cling stubbornly to the tree branches, struggling against the sun’s attempts to strip the branches clean.


Come February, when the novelty of winter has worn off, I will need to return to these words, and remind myself that every day holds a gift of beauty, if you take the time to look for it.

Ciao! ~ Kat

The Quiet Before the Storm

The Yellowstone Ski Festival draws thousands of skiers to this small town just outside the gate to Yellowstone National Park.  As the week goes on, the population builds, but the weekend before the official start of the Festival is still quiet and peaceful on the trails.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone
This peaceful scene has an expiration date in the near future as thousands of skiers descend on West Yellowstone later this week.

I started the day by fulfilling my role as the embarrassing mom — “Son, did you put on sunscreen?”  Response:  “Mom, no one else did.”  . .  . as his friend next to him says, “I did.” . . . which resulted in begrudging sunscreen application on the exposed parts of the face.  Mission accomplished, so on to my NaBloPoMo post of the day before heading out on the trails.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone

After yesterday’s almost 24-hour travel marathon to arrive in West Yellowstone, the sunny, warm day was an undeniable invitation to check out the trails.  A short walk to snow, then skis are on, making their way to the Rendezvous Trails trailhead.  I am content on my waxless touring skis, peacefully gliding along the groomed trails with snow-tufted trees reflecting the late afternoon sun. (That sounds so much more appealing than huffing and puffing in the higher altitude than I am used to, along with a body that is not quite in the shape I had hoped for this week’s activities!)

Forest along the Rendezvous Trails

Another parent friend familiar with the trails generously shows me a few options to explore during the week, and I enjoy the first ski of the season, leaving the bare trails at home in Minnesota behind. I take periodic breaks to snap a photo of our team’s skiers as they ski by or as they stop to regroup.

Snow-covered trees off the Rendezvous Trails

Nordic (cross-country) skiing is a sport for all levels to enjoy, a way to embrace the inevitable cold and snow that is part of our lives in northern climates.

Towering pines on the Rendezvous Trails

Today, the morning frost is disappearing from the bushes and trees, as the sun warms the temperatures from their early morning below-zero chill.  Another good day to enjoy the trails, admire the snow-capped pines, and take in that clean mountain air.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up (Encore)

The fresh snow compelled me to post a second response to this week’s Photo Challenge.  After a busy couple of weeks of travel for work and family commitments, I have been feeling woefully behind on all fronts.  Leave it to my favorite furry friend to convince me that I had time to get out last evening and find some beauty, once again, in the enormous fluffy snowflakes that coated the branches and added a fresh layer of white to surfaces we had hoped would be bare by now.  Looking up at the trees, the gray skies transformed into a blank canvas for the natural beauty of the snow-covered treetops.

Going for even a short run, even if slow, even if sprinkled with breaks to stretch or walk, I reminded myself to be grateful for the ability to run.  The tragedies of recent weeks were forefront in my mind as I jogged along the quiet, tree-lined path, thinking of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, the fertilizer plant explosions, and so many other daily traumas that don’t make the headline news, that forever change people’s ability to participate in the activities they enjoy, with the people (and furry companions) they love.  Getting out for a run clears my head, puts life’s demands in perspective, and leaves my four-legged friend with a grin that is full of unburdened, infectious joy that often only a dog can express.


While snow was still falling as yesterday drew to a close, this morning brought the promise that Spring would not forget us this year — reminding us that Hope is always around the corner even on the darkest of days, as the sun shines with brilliant blue skies to brighten moods and landscapes alike.

Looking up at the promise of spring from my doorstep!
Looking up at the promise of spring from my doorstep!

Blue skies smiling at me . . . nothing but blue skies do I see . .

~ Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Up” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.